Johnny O'Bryant scored a season-high 29 points as LSU upset No. 11 Kentucky 87-82 in a Southeastern Conference game on Tuesday night at the PMAC.
Holding a six-point halftime lead, LSU came out of the locker room with intensity. Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey made field goals in the first 40 seconds of the second half. Those two baskets ignited a 12-7 run by the Tigers at the outset of the final 20 minutes. O'Bryant made three field goals in this span. A basket by Mickey put LSU ahead 54-43 with 15:45 remaining in the game. Kentucky coach John Calipari called two timeouts in an attempt to stop the Tigers surge. The Wildcats came no closer than eight points until the last minute of the game.
KEY PERIOD IN FIRST HALF
LSU jumped off to a great start in the first 6½ minutes. O'Bryant made five field goals as the Tigers went ahead 22-6. Shavon Coleman added two baskets, one a 3-pointer. Mickey had a field goal and two foul shots. Mickey's two free throws put LSU ahead by 16 points with 13:26 remaining in the first half. Kentucky committed five turnovers during this stretch. Two of the Wildcats' three baskets came from reserve Dakari Johnson. Kentucky did reduce its deficit to two points at 29-27 on a three-point play by Alex Poythress. Due to two baskets by Anthony Hickey and a 3-pointer by Andre Stringer, the Tigers took a 42-36 lead into halftime.
KEY PERIOD IN SECOND HALF
A 3-pointer by James Young put Kentucky behind 56-48 with 14:08 remaining in the game. But, LSU answered with a 12-5 run to take its largest second-half advantage. Hickey and Stringer knocked down 3-pointers to begin the Tigers outburst. Martin chipped in with a field goal and Tim Quarterman made one of two free throws. Coleman converted a three-point play to give LSU a 68-53 lead with 9:50 remaining. The Wildcats remained at least ten points behind until the final minute when Aaron Harrison made three 3-pointers.
LSU'S TOP STARTER
O'Bryant had perhaps the most dominating performance of his career with the 29 points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots. The 29 points were one shy of his career-high which came last season at South Carolina. O'Bryant made 12 field goals, one short of his career-best which also came in the game against the Gamecocks. O'Bryant made at least ten field goals for the second time this season. He made 10 ten baskets in the season-opener against Massachusetts. O'Bryant was 12-of-20 from the field and 5-of-9 at the foul line. He now has 581 career rebounds which puts him at No. 27 on LSU's all-time rankings. O'Bryant moved ahead of Jose Vargas on Tuesday.
LSU'S TOP RESERVE
Stringer was the only bench to player to log significant time. In 22 minutes, Stringer had nine points as he made three of his four 3-point attempts. He made more than 50 percent of his treys for the first time since the Ole Miss game when he was 5-of-8. In the last three games prior to Tuesday, Stringer was 5-of-13 on 3-pointers.
LSU'S UNSUNG HERO
Playing against his home-state school, Hickey delivered his best performance of the season. He scored 11 points - his highest total since picking up the same number against Ole Miss. Hickey was 3-of-8 from the field and 4-of-4 at the foul line. He handed out six assists and made three steals. Hickey committed no turnovers. Hickey now has 297 career assists - the tenth most for a LSU player. He started the night tied with Tasmin Mitchell. Hickey now has 196 steals - the sixth most in school history. He passed up Jerry Reynolds, who had 194 steals in his career.
LSU shot the ball consistently well throughout the game from the field - 50 percent in the first half (16-of-32) and 52 percent in the second half (16-of-31). For the game, the Tigers made 51 percent of their field goal attempts, including 39 percent on 3-pointers (7-of-18). Kentucky committed 13 turnovers, 11 being the result of LSU steals. The Tigers had a 16-9 edge in points off turnovers. LSU also blocked 11 shots, while Kentucky had only four blocks.
LSU started a big lineup with Coleman at shooting guard and Martin at small forward. The other starters were Hickey, Mickey and O'Bryant. . .Coleman scored in double figures for the fourth time in the past five games. He had 14 points giving him 46 points in the last three contests. Coleman was 5-of-11 from the field, including 2-of-4 on 3-pointers. He also grabbed a season-high nine rebounds - all on the defensive end. Coleman handed out a career-high five assists and made two steals. . .Mickey was overshadowed by O'Bryant, but he certainly was a defensive force under the basket. Mickey blocked five shots to increase his season total to 69. That total is the eighth most in a single season for a LSU player. Chris Johnson blocked 66 shots in 2008. Mickey finished with 14 points and six rebounds. . . Martin, who returned to the starting lineup for the first time since the Tennessee game, matched his season-high in minutes with 31. Martin had nine points, three rebounds and a season-high three blocked shots. Martin was 4-of-7 from the field and made two steals. . .LSU committed 11 turnovers - seven from O'Bryant (four) and Coleman (three). . .The Tigers held their own on the boards with Kentucky. The Wildcats outrebounded LSU 42-37. . .Young, who led Kentucky with 23 points, made five 3-pointers. Johnson came off the bench and scored a season-high 15 points to go along with six rebounds. Thanks to his three treys in the final minute, Aaron Harrison had 14 points. Poythress, another reserve, had ten points and seven rebounds. . .Julius Randle, who was averaging a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds, had a horrible game. Randle finished with six points and five rebounds. He missed eight of his 11 field goal attempts. . .LSU ended a five-game losing streak against Kentucky. Its last victory against the Wildcats came in the 2009 SEC tournament (67-58). The last time the Tigers beat Kentucky in Baton Rouge was 2006 (71-67). . .The 87 points LSU scored were its most against the Wildcats in 18 seasons. The Tigers lost to Kentucky 129-97 in 1996 in a game in which the Wildcats scored 86 first-half points. . .The victory was just the fourth for LSU in its last 23 games against a ranked SEC team. . .LSU is 13-6 overall, 4-3 in the SEC. Kentucky is 15-5 overall, 5-2 in the SEC. LSU is tied with Missouri, which beat Arkansas on Tuesday, for fifth place in the conference standings. Kentucky is in third place behind Florida (6-0) and Ole Miss (5-1). . .The paid attendance was a season-best 12,124. The actual crowd was slightly more than 6,000, which included about 3,500 students on a night where many of the roads in Baton Rouge were impassable.
FROM THE LOCKERROOM
Coach Johnny Jones
"Our guys came out from the start and did a tremendous job making plays early on. We executed offensively and defensively in terms of setting the tone. We closed out the half the way that we needed to and then opened up the second half with two quick baskets. We put ourselves in a position where we had momentum again. Kentucky wasn't going to go away. They continued to make their runs, but our guys did a tremendous job on both ends of the floor."
"It wasn't difficult settling our players down after getting out to an early lead. When we got in our press, we were able to create some turnovers. With the turnovers, we didn't make great decisions on the backside. We took some low-percentage shots. That gave them an opportunity to get back out on the run and they feed off that. We took long shots. They got long rebounds and got out on the break. We had to force them to guard us and take high-percentage shots. We got back on track after that."
"We played a few possessions of man defense. When they called a timeout early, I knew they were going to draw up some type of zone offense to attack our defense. We went man a few possessions to try to get them out of their rhythm. Then, we were able to get back in our zone. Our length helped us on the perimeter with the great shooters they have. They wound up burying some shots late. The big thing was that we wanted to make sure we were able to rebound the basketball out of the zone."
"Johnny O'Bryant's balance was good. He did an excellent job of going inside. He hit a few jumpers outside and forced them to try to defend him in a different way. Initially, they showed him single coverage. He did a great job taking advantage of that. When they doubled, Johnny did an excellent job being patient and passing out of it. In the second half, we wound up leaving him in a little longer and he got a little winded. He took a couple of jumpers he possibly could have waited on. When we got him out, he got his wind back and he went back at them in the paint, He drew a couple of fouls and scored near the basket."
"It's great to beat Kentucky with its history and tradition they have in our league. To have an opportunity to come back in that type of atmosphere and that environment, that was a huge win for us. We have a lot of season left in front of us, but that's a really good win for us."
"We wanted to come out aggressive. When I scored those first couple of baskets, the team rallied around me. They just fed off my energy to begin with. I really tried to attack Kentucky. I knew they were young guys and I had an advantage in experience and body-wise. I was going at them all night. For some reason, Randle had an off night. Our team played great defense with our zone. That was really the first time we played zone for a whole game. It was great to get those turnovers early and not look back. It really helped us gain momentum and we never looked back. We believed we could get the win. We were very positive and focused before the game."
"It was a team effort defensively. We tried to limit Kentucky to one shot. We did a great job rebounding and getting the tough 50/50 balls. We hustled a lot. We need this game really bad. We executed our game plan for the whole 40 minutes. Kentucky is one of the best rebounding teams in the country so we had to limit them to one shot. We had to make easy shots and get a lot of layups - not settle for 3-pointers."
LSU will play host to Arkansas at the PMAC on Saturday at 4 p.m. The Razorbacks (13-7, 2-5) lost to Missouri 75-71 in Fayetteville on Tuesday night. The LSU-Arkansas game will be broadcast on ESPNU.